Saturday, January 29, 2011

Resource Guarding

I haven't really had a lot of resource guarding problems with Chandler. He doesn't attempt to guard things from me because I have emphasized from day one that I am the bringer of good things. He also doesn't have much of a problem with resource guarding objects from other dogs. Part of that may be a simple lack of opportunity, as he is an only dog and doesn't have a lot of opportunity for competition. He did once start to stand over a toy during playtime in obedience class, but I immediately removed the toy when I saw what was happening. More often his behavior around toys looks like this:

...or this:

However, when he was younger I did have some problems with him resource guarding me from other dogs. Most people would probably characterize this as jealousy. He didn't like it if I was paying attention to another dog. Being Chandler, he wasn't really inclined to growl at, glare at, or bite the other dog. Instead he just used the "icebreaker ship" method, and would cheerfully barge right between me and the other dog. It took some diligent training (and a ruff bite from his cousin for excessive rudeness-leave it to a female ES) to break this bad habit.

The following is an email sent to the English Shepherd Yahoo list that describes methods for working on resource guarding issues. The "anti-jealousy" training described is very similar to what I did with Chandler. It has been reprinted here with the permission of its author. (Thank you Erin!)

So often resource guarding has nothing to do with "dominance" so it's not
surprising that Matilda is not the dominant one but does RG. IME, RG is just as complex in its basics as so many other behaviors. Ceilidh used to RG me, from other dogs, especially. When she did, she got put into a sit stay, I'd move to between her and the other dog, give that dog some attention, then give her LOTS of praise for remaining calm. Soon she realized that *every* time I paid attention to another dog, *she* got a huge reward. And her RG faded dramatically. You can see she still occasionally considers it, but I've done my best to make it abundantly clear that when she's "good" she's rewarded. Also, she's realized that she doesn't need to worry that she's missing out on any of my attention, or affection, if she allows the other dog to approach me. Now, she's gotten so good at this that I've been able to use her as a "neutral dog" when I've worked with dogs who have issues themselves. Tucker wanted to RG his food, especially when we switched him to raw. Boy, he didn't want to take any chances that I'd realized I'd made a mistake, and took THAT back! When I got a freeze and hard eye from him, I immediately sat down with him, and fed him every bite of his meals from my hands for about a week. He started out a bit grabby, but soon realized that I wasn't taking the food away, but was the bringer of the Really Good Stuff. Now there's absolutely NO sign of ANY RG from him. Anyone at all can take anything from him, and he has no problem with it. Neither of those has anything to do with dominance of any sort. Though it could be a case of "I'm boss, so I control all resources" it very often is nothing of the kind.

Resource guarding seems to be a very common problem that can often be avoided if preventative measures are taken and training is implemented at the first sign of a problem. Of course, more serious cases would probably require management to protect all involved, more extensive training, and perhaps even professional help.

May all of you have a peaceable kingdom.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! I think it will be very helpful! Milou tries to herd bigger dogs away from me at the dog park if I show them attention (but happily plays with them if I ignore them). I will definitely try this.